ELON, N.C. – After dropping the first two sets, the Elon volleyball team stormed back to keep the match alive by winning the next two sets but ultimately fell to UNCG, 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 9-15), in its SoCon opener tonight, Sept. 20, in Alumni Gym. The Phoenix drops to 7-9 (0-1 SoCon) on the season, while the Spartans improve to 6-6 (1-0 SoCon).
“We got just what we expected tonight from UNCG,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “Every time we play them it’s a hard fought battle. We’re going to take the positives from this match and continue to work on our weaknesses.”
Freshman Megan Gravely recorded her third double-double of the season with 18 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Chanelle Smith also finished with a double-double after 13 kills and 10 digs. Sophomore Kris Harris tallied 11 kills, while freshman Ana Nicksic had 46 assists. On defense, the Phoenix out blocked the Spartans, 8-3, with the help of six blocks by Harris and three by Nicksic.
The Spartans grabbed a slight lead to start the first set but the Phoenix tied it at 13-all with a kill by C. Smith. With UNCG up by one, 16-15, the Spartans managed three straight to take a four-point advantage. UNCG reached set point, 24-19, but Elon was able to score three unanswered with the help of two kills by Gravley to pull within two, 24-22. However, the Spartans were able to hold on to claim a 25-22 victory.
The second set remained close with 12 ties and neither team taking more than a two-point lead by the time the score reached 18-all. From there the Spartans managed three straight to lead by three, 21-18. The Phoenix cut the deficit to two, 20-22, but UNCG took a 2-0 match lead after winning the set, 25-21.
Elon used kills by Harris, Nicksic and Gravley to pull out to a 10-7 lead to start the third set. Up by one, 13-12, the Phoenix scored three unanswered off a kill by Allison Johnson and some UNCG errors to extend the advantage to four, 16-12. After the Spartans pulled within one, 19-18, the maroon and gold went on a 6-1 run off kills by C. Smith, Gravley and Harris to win the set, 25-19, and keep the match alive.
The Phoenix jumped out to a 5-1 run off two aces by Maggie Reichard and kills by Harris and Nicksic to start the fourth set. The Spartans knotted the set at 17-all, but Elon took five of the next seven points to grab the lead by three, 22-19. The maroon and gold held on and ended the set off a kill by Gravley to win, 25-22, and send the match into a deciding fifth set.
In the final set, Elon pulled out to a slight one-point advantage, 8-7, with two kills by C. Smith and one by Gravley. However, UNCG ended the set on an 8-1 run to win the set, 15-8, and the match, 3-2.
The Phoenix remains at home for another SoCon match on Saturday, Sept. 22, against College of Charleston at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym.